What’s going on?

Norway is currently experiencing an increased flow of refugees, many from Syria. The first stop for these people is the National Police Immigration Service (PU) in Oslo, where they have to be registered. PU does not have the capacity to register the number of people they are currently receiving, meaning there are long queues, with some people having to wait more than 24 hours to be registered. PU was not designed as a place where people are intended to spend much time and has neither the facilities nor the capacity to provide people with food, clothing and other necessities. A voluntary initiative was therefore launched called “Refugees Welcome to Norway” to ensure that people waiting to be registered have their basic needs met.
Do not contact or show up at the National Police Immigration Service (PU) directly. They are very busy registering refugees as quickly as possible and cannot deal with inquiries from the public.
The next stop for refugees, after they have been registered, is a transit reception centre, and then an ordinary asylum reception centre, of which there are many all over Norway. The situation is already becoming precarious in some of these centres, due to a lack of capacity, and eventually all the asylum reception centres will probably face capacity problems.
What many people want to know is “What can I do to help?” Below we describe some of the ways you can help.



  • To donate items to people in asylum reception centres in Oslo:
    • The asylum reception centres in Oslo have now received a lot of donated items and have limited capacity to receive much more. Check the Facebook group Refugees Welcome – Oslo for new information and updates.
  • To donate items to people in asylum reception centres elsewhere in Norway:
    • Find the local Facebook group for your region and see if there is someone you can coordinate with local Facebook group.
  • Or contact your nearest asylum reception centre directly.
  • To donate items to refugees rescued from boats in the Mediterranean:


  • Since Friday, October 16th, the majority of asylum seekers will no longer register at the National Police Immigration Service at Tøyen. A brand new Reception Centre has opened in Råde, Østfold. Alongside E6, at “Ankomstsenter Råde” as many as 1.000 asylum seekers may be catered for at a time. The Centre has amenities such as bedding and food. If you would like to help as a volunteer, consider joining Refugees Welcome to Østfold.
  • If you are a health care worker (doctor, nurse, etc.), join our Facebook group: Helsepersonell REFUGEE WELCOME TO NORWAY
  • Or contact the Health Centre for Undocumented Immigrants (Helsesenter for papirløse migranter) directly if you are in Oslo.
  • In terms of the situation at the National Police Immigration Service (PU) in Tøyen, there are currently enough volunteers there. To register as a volunteer, send an e-mail to volunteertoyen [alpha], and someone will get back to you when they need help.


People have started collecting donated items in many places all over Norway. Volunteers may be needed to help collect clothes and other items from people who are not able to deliver them to a drop-off point themselves, or to transport donated items to the nearest asylum reception centre. Join your local Facebook group and find out about local activities there.


Refugee reception centres all over the country are continuously in need of, and appreciate, effort from volunteers. Get in touch with a nearby refugee reception centre to find out what they need. Several volunteer organisations are working to organise efforts from volunteers to improve the integration of asylum seekers in our society. Register with one of these:


First of all, it is important to distinguish between people who have been granted either asylum or residency on humanitarian grounds, and asylum seekers who do not yet know the outcome of their application. Asylum seekers generally live in asylum reception centres, where they are given a modest amount of money for food and essentials. Refugees can choose not to stay in an asylum reception centre but will not receive any benefits, as a result. In theory, however, refugees are free to live wherever they want while awaiting the result of their asylum application. In practice, the majority of asylum seekers reside in refugee reception centres while their application is being processed.
Many refugees who have been granted asylum or residency on humanitarian grounds reside in an asylum reception centre for extended periods, while they wait to be assigned to a municipality. Once refugees resettle in their assigned municipality they become the municipality’s responsibility and are eligible for the Introduction Programme and its monetary benefits, in addition to other forms of assistance. However, refugees are not assigned to a municipality until the municipality has arranged suitable accommodation.

A shortage of housing in many municipalities, delays the efficient resettlement process for many refugees. If you own an apartment or house that you believe may be suitable long-term accommodation for refugees, we urge you to contact those in charge of “municipality housing” or “refugee housing” in your municipality. Please note that it is a prerequisite that the property: 1. meets general housing regulations and standards and 2) that it be available for long-term rental (3 years or more). The former entails that the property will in all likelihood be inspected before any formal agreement can be arranged. Details on how to proceed further after your property is deemed suitable for rental to refugees may vary from municipality to municipality.

Once suitable accommodation is available, the process of resettlement can proceed, and refugees can begin their new life in their assigned municipality. Upon settlement in the municipality, most adults qualify for the Introduction Programme which is designed to assist refugees in learning Norwegian and acquiring the necessary qualifications for paid employment in Norway. Read more here. Suitable housing is therefore an incredibly important factor in the process of resettlement.

How can I offer shelter to a refugee?

  • Unfortunately it is not the case that individuals can simply offer to provide accommodation for a refugee / asylum seeker. If you own an apartment or house that you believe may be suitable long-term accommodation for refugees, we urge you to contact those in charge of “municipality housing” or “refugee housing” in your municipality. Please note that it is a prerequisite that the property: 1. meets general housing regulations and standards and 2) that it be available for long-term rental (3 years or more). You can also register the property at

The topic “housing” is also discussed in the Facebook group “Har du plass til en ekstra i hjemmet ditt?” (“Do you have room for one more in your home?”)

UDI has issued a statement regarding solutions for temporary reception locations, read more here.


The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) has recently announced that they are going to consider different solutions for temporary reception centres. UDI sent the following response to a private inquiry about housing asylum seekers in private homes rather than reception centres:
“Thank you for your inquiry. We are very pleased that you would like to help provide accommodation for refugees that make it to Norway.
UDI is currently working actively to find more temporary accommodation for asylum seekers. We need to find places that can accommodate large numbers of people at the same time. The reason for this is that we need to be able to provide information about the asylum process, ensure that the refugees receive financial support, and arrange transfer to an ordinary asylum reception centre as soon as capacity becomes available. If refugees are accommodated in small groups in many different places, the logistics of this work becomes very difficult, and therefore we must unfortunately decline offers of accommodation in private homes.
There is nevertheless always a need for people who want to contribute through voluntary work, and there are many other ways you can help. We have posted some tips on what people can do to help refugees on our website:…/vil-du-hjelpe-asylsokere-og-flyktninger/
Once again, thank-you for getting involved! We are totally dependent on positive interaction with local communities and volunteers who put in time and effort to make sure that refugees and asylum seekers are received in the best possible way. ”


Check out one of these Facebook groups: